The recipient of the EJN Best Publication Award 2011 is a former PhD student at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris (France), Dr. Lea Siksou.
Her article, co-authored by F. Varoqueaux, O. Pascual, A. Triller, N. Brose and S. Marty, was selected by the EJN Best Publication Award Committee from a total of 19 nominations of articles published in 2009 and 2010. Her article is entitled "A common molecular basis for membrane docking and functional priming of synaptic vesicles" and was published as a Featured Article in EJN 30, 49-56 (2009). The research described in this article re-assesses a controversial issue about the molecular mechanisms underlying presynaptic vesicle maturation and competency for neurotransmitter release.
The work by Siksou et al. utilizes electron tomography analysis of the ultrastructural features of presynaptic vesicles in synapses from hippocampal neurons of mutant mice lacking Munc-13. Previous work had shown that Munc-13 is essential for vesicular neurotransmitter release, but its precise function remained unsettled. Using high pressure freezing to achieve optimal resolution of tissue components in a "close to native" state, Siksou et al. demonstrated that "docking" and "priming" of presynaptic vesicles are two aspects of the same molecular process mediated by Munc-13, enabling subsequent membrane fusion and transmitter release.
The work by Siksou and colleagues represents an important contribution for deciphering the intricate molecular interactions regulating the life cycle of presynaptic vesicles in chemical synapses. It also highlights how unraveling the structure and function of the nervous system intimately depends on the development of novel experimental tools.
The Award, which is supported by FENS and Wiley-Blackwell, was presented at the FENS Featured Regional Meeting in Ljubljana (September 22-25, 2011). We warmly congratulate Dr. Lea Siksou and her co-authors for this achievement and thank them for having selected EJN for publishing their remarkable study.